lundi 24 janvier 2011

Cultural prejudice

You may remember the scene in A Fish called Wanda when Jamie Lee Curtis becomes totally wild when John Cleese starts speaking (fake) Italian.

It's an interesting thing to observe how some foreign languages carry with them their fare share of cultural prejudice, be they positive or not.

French and Italian for example are often perceived as being sexy to American ears which may not be the case with German or Spanish.

German sexyness? Hmmm... sounds unlikely doesn't it? Yet, German calls for other cultural values which certainly have certain sociological and historical grounds.

Languages as tools which raison d'être is to communicate are basically neutral in terms of associated values and cultural hints. Just like the many writing systems, Chinese ideograms, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Latin alphabet, Arabic or Nordic ones are neutral and don't carry with them any cultural underlying meanings. They're just written signs on stones, sand or paper like sounds are just... well sounds.

It's the peoples and their cultures which give the languages they speak such and such flavor which don't pertain to their languages in the first place.

It all has to do with the history and culture of the peoples whose languages we may find attractive, or not. History here is the key word which explains the nature of the perceptions attached to foreign languages. And to be more precise, the history our own culture shares with other ones.

One may object that the mere nature of some sounds makes them unpleasant to our ears but then again, it's a matter of cultural context and possibly personal tastes.

I don't feel particularly comfortable with Deutsch or Chinese sounds euphonically speaking but I nonetheless may associate these sounds to certain cultural standards.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to the clichés we associate foreigners with. French and Italian may sound sexy to certain American ears or romantic to Asians, they nonetheless carry with them other images  which probably are not particularly sexy.

Now, who knows if a Japanese Jamie Lee Curtis doesn't wiggle on her bed when a Cambodian speaks (fake) Vietnamese to her?

13 commentaires:

Anijo a dit…

Oh, I find the Spanish accent quite sexy, particularly this guy's spanish accent

Flocon a dit…

Unfortunately the embed link has been disactivated sur Youtube mais le lien permet d'aller voir l'extrait dont je parle.

Flocon a dit…

Well, in these matters you know much more and better than me Anijo ;-)

By the way, do you speak spanish? (I don't)

Anijo a dit…

And I don't find the Italian accent very sexy.

I do find Flocon's accent to be very very very sexy...

Anijo a dit…

I speak French better than I speak Spanish. But yes, I speak some Spanish.

Anijo a dit…

I've never seen this movie, "A fish called Wanda", but according to the scene that you linked to she is also pretending to be turned on by his Russian accent. What really turns her on is the fact that she thinks he is wealthy.

Flocon a dit…

"What really turns her on is the fact that she thinks he is wealthy"

Yeah, sure, and it's a movie but she uses the cliché of some languages being sexy.

Here is another scene where she's turned on when her accomplice (they're crooks) speaks Italian.

He's not wealthy, it's just that Italian really turns her on.

I was with an English girl-friend when I saw the movie back in 1988 and she laughed out her heart as an English watching this movie where Americans try to steal an English lawyer.

The differences between American English and British one, the cultural context, the actors of course and the plot, the whole thing made her have a tremendously hilarious time.

I recommend you watch the flick when opportunity arises Anijo!

Has Ned seen A Fish called Wanda?

Anijo a dit…

and she laughed out her heart

You mean 'she laughed her heart out'

Flocon, I haven't been to a movie in over 15 years! I don't even rent them anymore because I forget to return them on time.

Flocon a dit…

Merci pour la correction Anijo,

In return that one is for you...

Anijo a dit…

In return that one is for you...

Merci! yummy yummy yummy ☺ ☺ ☺

I've been watching the Australian tennis open. Monfils is out now.

Anonyme a dit…

>>The differences between American English and British one, the cultural context...
Gosses = Enfants[FR] = Couilles[PQ]


Christine a dit…

Je suis morte de rire, surtout avec le premier clip! Je commence bien la journée. Vous pouvez être sûr, Jan, que devant mes classes de gosses, je vais bien penser à vous!!!

Flocon a dit…

Merci pour les trois vidéo Jan :-D

Les têtes à claques ne sont pas vraiment connues en France; j'en ai vu un certain nombre d'épisodes sur Youtube, that's all.

Une série québécoise a très, très bien marché en France as you know, c'est Un gars, une fille qui a fait de Jean Dujardin l'acteur le plus populaire à présent.

Toutes les vidéos de cette série ont été supprimées de Youtube malheureusement but maybe not on Youtube CND.

There was one where the Canadian actors (Guy Lepage and Sylvie Léonard) and the French ones met in Paris. I can't retrieve it.